“Jews came to Chicago from virtually every country in Europe and the Middle East, but especially from Germany and Eastern Europe,” says the Encyclopedia of Chicago. Jews immigrated to the United States to escape poverty, discrimination, and hate crimes. To say some Jews didn’t have “fond memories” of their homelands is an understatement.

Chicago was incorporated in 1833; by 1933, Chicago Jews were only outnumbered by New York City and Warsaw, Poland Jewish populations. Early Jewish settlers included Henry Horner, an ancestor to the first Jewish mayor of Chicago.

Selling – peddling – as a profession enabled the Jewish settlers to quickly acquire language skills and led to many successful business ventures. Russian and Polish Jews from small, rural villages began immigrating to Chicago in large numbers circa 1870. By 1930, they numbered over 80% of Chicago’s Jewish community. They settled mainly in the westside and labored as artisans, factory workers, garment industry workers, peddlers, and merchants.

Chicago-Area Firsts

The first synagogue was Kehilath Anshe Mayriv (KAM), established in 1847 by German Jews. By 1852, disgruntled Polish Jews broke off and founded Kehilath B’nai Sholom, Chicago’s second congregation. In 1861, the Sinai Reform synagogue was established near the corner of LaSalle and Monroe streets. Other Chicago-area “firsts” include:

  • 1859 – United Hebrew Relief Association (UHRA)
  • 1890 – Jewish Training School
  • 1895 – Chicago Maternity Center
  • 1903 – Chicago Hebrew Institute
  • 1908 – Maot Chitim

Your History, Your Legacy

The Jewish history is rich with inheritance metaphors; terms meaning “inheritance” are mentioned over 200 times in the Old Testament. “The Scriptures transform the concept of inheritance to include the acquisition of spiritual blessings and promises from God,” says Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary.

We often have instructions for what we leave behind. When you leave a legacy of love with a financial donation to Maot Chitim, those who benefit from your inheritance can pay those blessings forward, and your history begins. Learn more about leaving a legacy! When you contact us, we’ll explain some of the ways a legacy gift can be established (assets, cash, charitable trust/annuity, IRA funds, life insurance, will bequest).

All gourmets are foodies, but not all foodies are gourmets. A Jewish foodie might be someone who prefers cane sugar-sweetened Coca-Cola year-round, not just at Passover. You can taste the difference.

Foodies who live in the Chicago area are fortunate – we have plenty of excellent restaurant choices for kosher food! The only problem is defining “the best” eateries because your taste buds and others’ taste buds may have different preferences. So, if you haven’t already, check out some of these terrific Chicago restaurants serving kosher foods:

  • EJ’s Pizzeria – Pitas and pizzas, falafel plates and more at 9149 Gross Point Rd., Skokie.
  • Emma’s Bagel Cafe – breakfast, bakery, and atmosphere, 9306 Skokie Blvd. Skokie.
  • Hamachi Sushi Bar – Located at 2801 W Howard Street, reservations might be a good idea at peak times. “There’s definitely something for everyone on the menu.”
  • Hy Life Bistro – Fine dining at incredible prices, 4120 Dempster Street in Skokie.
  • Ken’s Diner & Grille – Kosher deli with a ‘50s flair at 3353 Dempster Street, Skokie
  • MetroKlub – Downtown Chicago’s only gourmet kosher restaurant located at 733 W. Madison Street, in the Crowne Plaza/Chicago West Loop.
  • Milt’s Barbecue for the Perplexed – Go to the Lakeview area, 3411 North Broadway for high-quality kosher smoked meats. Milt’s also offers events with global and Jewish affairs’ speakers.
  • Mizrahi Grill – Home of the Real Shawarma, 215 Skokie Valley Rd., Highland Park.
  • Shaevitz Uptown BBQ – Kosher brisket, skirt steaks and more, located 710 Central Ave, Highland Park, IL.
  • Slice of Life – Gourmet pizza is a staple, but the Middle Eastern platter is the best! 4120 West Dempster between Kedvale & Karlov in Skokie.
  • Taboun Grill – Chicago’s only Israeli grill, located at 8808 Gross Point Road, Skokie.
  • TeinLi Chow Kosher Chinese – Let them “do the wok for you” with a terrific catering menu. Located at 2485 Howard, Evanston.
  • Tel Aviv Kosher Pizza and Dairy – “Some of the best shakshuka I’ve ever had.” 6349 North California, Chicago.

You Can Help Our Food Deliveries

If you’re a foodie and have some unique kosher recipes or restaurant recommendations, let us know!

And remember, there’s a difference between the pleasure of foods and the necessity for foods that enable us to worship as our ancestors decreed. This historical connection of specific foods for certain religious observances is important to all of us. If you can help with our purchases, packing, and delivery of kosher foods, contact Maot Chithim of Greater Chicago and ask us what we need the most at this time.